|The Multiplex Dilema: Weekday Afternoon slots running to Empty Seats|
- 1:15 PM, Occupancy 45%, Price: Rs. 160
- 1:30 PM, Occupancy 55%, Price: Rs. 140
- 1:45 PM, Occupancy 65%, Price: Rs. 120
- 2 PM, Occupancy 70%, Price: Rs. 100
- 2:15 PM, Occupancy 75%, Price: Rs. 80
- 2:30 PM, Occupancy 80%, Price: Rs. 60
- 2:35 PM, Occupancy 82%, Price: Rs. 55
- 2:40 PM, Occupancy 85%, Price: Rs. 50
- 2:45 PM, Occupancy 90%, Price: Rs. 45
- 2:50 PM, Occupancy 95%, Price: Rs. 40
- 2:59 PM, Occupancy 98%, Price: Rs. 30
Ofcourse, Multiplexes may want to still retain some minimum thresholds of pricing to maintain their crowd standards and ensure that their auditoriums do not become a snooze and fun adda for vagabonds. Dropping prices to ridiculous levels (Like say Rs. 20) will not just incentivize non-passionate viewers, but infact bring in a lot of non-viewers into the fray who are there just for the Air Conditioning, or in most cases, a cheap and comfy option to cozy-up and avoid the moral police.
- Considering the gross costs involved (travel, parking, tickets, snacks, amusement, post-movie dinner), Multiplex movie watching still continues to be primarily a ‘By Appointment’ form of entertainment. However, a variable pricing structure could possibly bring in a new concept of ‘Casual’ movie watching (which is so prevalent in single screen cinemas).
- Imagine, people strolling in a mall for some casual shopping or books on a lazy weekday. Now the variable ticker kicks-off. The latest Hollywood blockbuster is about to start in the next 20 minutes at just Rs. 50 (50% discount on regular prices). Doesn’t that sound like a cool deal? Wouldn’t it bring in some incremental footfall?
- In today’s age of Smart phones, how about sharing this variable pricing through Bluetooth and BBMs or even bulk SMSs. Imagine, a group of college students discovering that their last lecture of Economics has been rescheduled. The Variable pricing informs about Avengers in the nearby multiplex for just Rs. 40. Isn’t that a compelling reason for these youngsters to venture in? A very logical case of unplanned, unscheduled, casual movie watching.
- Variable pricing may also impact our movie watching habits. It might have a huge impact on the ‘Seconds’ market. People may want to re-watch their favorite blockbusters by availing such variable price bands.
- On the other hand, niche movies, may find all the more reason for getting made, exhibited and making money. Most smaller films lose out on screen space (due to onslaught of blockbusters) and at times even have their shows cancelled due to minimal audience turnout. A variable pricing could ensure that such smaller movies have much higher probability of finding their niche audience.
- For the multiplexes, it’s a simple ‘McDonaldisation’ of their business model. Just like the Happy Price Menu at McDonalds that intends to increase footfalls by introducing products in the Rs. 20 price band, a variable pricing structure is all about increasing footfalls during low-occupancy periods. And an increased footfall, by all means would spell good news for the ancillary high-margin business of food, snacks and popcorn.
To summarize, Smart Analytics could come very handy in filling up those critical vacant seats in most of our multiplexes. It could trigger the sweet spot of decision when a potential viewer is in two-minds about re-watching a favorite film or venturing for a niche film. It could bring in a lot more college-goers, young audience and action in the now-passive ‘Weekday afternoon’ slot. Youngsters less on money, but with a fair amount of time and inclination towards movies. It would definitely mean much more popcorn and an additional, legitimate revenue stream for the Production houses! Come to think of it, would you rather not watch Avengers in big 70 mm screen at Rs. 40, than a patchy pirated version on your PC?